For many B2B marketing professionals, your job isn’t done once a lead is generated or captured via a website form or inbound phone call. There is no ceremonial handing off of leads to sales. In the B2B space, many marketing professionals are also required to wear a sales hat and tasked with nurturing leads from a qualified prospect to a sales-ready opportunity to a closed deal. After all, a lead isn’t necessarily a closed deal.
At Bop Design, we see lead generation as only part of the revenue generating puzzle. We’ve seen a lot of success, both internally and in our clients’ organizations, for nurturing leads along to customer acquisition. As such, we are sharing our top tips for nurturing marketing leads, especially with the help of content marketing pieces.
Follow Up After First Contact
Once you have a lead in your hand (figuratively) or in your email inbox (literally), the nurturing process begins. The prospect has taken the first step to reach out to your company and has shown interest. Don’t drop the ball now. Your first step should be to follow up with the lead within 1 business day. Responding to an email within 1 day is critical to closing the deal.
Essentially, you just want to get in front of them and give them a human point of contact. While many firms are moving towards automating this first point of contact, in the B2B marketing space, it’s important to have a human make this connection. Remember this can also be a good point to disqualify a lead and save yourself and the prospect time.
Share Helpful Blogs
After the first follow-up email to the prospect, it’s time to send helpful content (once a reasonable amount of time has passed, of course). Blog posts are a great way to easily share tips with prospects, build up your credibility, and show that you understand their needs and can anticipate their questions. Be sure that any blog posts you send are educational in nature and are not merely sales brochures in blog format.
Send White papers, Guides, Case Studies
Content marketing pieces aren’t simply lead generation tools. They are also great lead nurturing tools. When it comes to designing a B2B marketing strategy, content pieces that address every stage of the sales process are essential to create a smoother sales process for prospects. For example, white papers, guides, and case studies should be created to help answer a prospect’s questions about the results your products or services provide, how best to utilize your products or services, or how your firm helps clients solve problems or streamline processes. Sending these content pieces along to a prospect builds value and lays the groundwork for a successful partnership.
Discuss a Proposal
Anyone can create a proposal and email it to a prospect. However, successful sales and marketing folks take the time to explain a proposal either in person or via a virtual presentation. If you send a proposal over email without an in-person explanation, it is almost a guarantee that your firm’s products and services will be evaluated on price alone. If you aren’t the low-price leader, you will lose out to competitors every time.
A critical step in the lead nurturing process is hand-holding. Scheduling a call or meeting to discuss a service or product proposal takes the pressure off the prospect, gives them the opportunity to see the value of your offerings, and ask any follow-up questions.
Reach Out with References
After you’ve sent your best content marketing pieces and discussed a proposal with a prospect, the lead nurturing doesn’t stop. Offer to send references. Many prospects are not familiar with the products or services your firm is offering and would like to get a chance to ask candid questions of your current clients about what it’s like to work with your company. Don’t make them ask. Understand their perspective and alleviate any uncertainty by providing contact information for trusted, happy clients (with their permission, of course).
Last Ditch Emails
Sometimes great leads seem to go cold. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Don’t automatically assume that a prospect went with your closest competitor. Instead, send what we call “last ditch effort” emails to try to get them to respond. This does not mean you should pester them or leave a bunch of messages. Rather, craft a personalized, brief email letting them know you understand they may have gone with a competitor, may have had a change in budget, or have redirected their attention to a different project or objective. Nine times out of ten, they will respond and either confirm one of these reasons or let you know where they are in the sales process. If they are a lost lead, at least you know and can remove them from your funnel and apply any feedback into your future B2B marketing efforts.
Looking to generate inbound leads for your B2B firm? Find out how content marketing can help with generating and nurturing leads for your organization today.